The Land of Ice Chronicles: The boy with the pink and green aura

Ivon; His name is Ivon Roberts. Since the day I had an actual conversation with him, we’ve hung out like three times but it was like there was some instant connection there. Funny thing is, there was already an obvious connection between us that I actively ignored for like 3 months because I was stuck in such a negative mindset.

Let me elaborate.

If you’ve read all of these blogs or know me, you know I have an obsession with all things Korean. I even think I might have been a Korean Princess in a past life, but that’s beside the point. The point is that ever since I arrived here in Limerick, I had been praying to meet and chill with someone who shares my interest in the Asian Gods and Goddesses that make up the Korean entertainment industry. And yet, when I found out there were TWO people that shared this interest in MY DAMN CLASS, my negative mindset caused me to ignore the fact. I decided not to engage in too much conversation because I thought, “eh. They won’t like me because I’m American”, or “eh. They seem too popular to hang out with me… I’m a loser”.

Man, I sincerely wish I could go back in time and knock some damn sense into my naive self. I missed out on an amazing friendship for almost 5 months. But you know what, it does bring me joy that I ended up finding this friendship. Honestly, its one of the only things I’ll miss when I leave Ireland.

But why, though? Can thou explain?

I can. After talking to Ivon for a while, we’d decided to hit up the stables for the last couple “TGIF International Parties” they were having. Now, if you’ve read my other blogs, you are aware how much I despise the music they play. Yet, I really felt like this time would be different and BOY WAS IT. First off, I was actually happy the entire night. Four different guys actually came to talk to me because I guess they found me interesting. Whatever the case, Mama felt sexy as hell. I felt such a natural high just from being there with my newly made friend. That child is like a monster on the dancefloor; he will legitimately dance to anything and throw all of his energy into it. Needless to say, just by being around him for one song made me feel like I’d just had 17 shots of tequila. So the music wasn’t a bother; I started jamming to Party in the USA feeling like a proud Lil’ ditsy American. I went around and must’ve given 10 different strangers hugs just because I found them attractive. Mama was wild.

I had never felt so free in the 5 months that I’d been in Ireland so this was an actual big deal. I just felt so confident and I honestly think part of it came from the energy I was picking up from Ivon. He danced the entire night without a care in the world. He was just happy to be doing something that was fun for him and that alone was a joy to watch unfold. The next time we hit up stables again, it was just as magical and I am so glad. Now when I think about the on-campus club/bar, I am filled with joy, happiness, and laughter.

The third time we hung out, we went to go eat. We must’ve stayed in the restaurant for like 3 hours just talking about life and other things. I truly felt connected to someone Irish for the first time since I’d been here. I hadn’t had a talk like that with anyone in a really long time. I also hadn’t laughed that hard in a really long time and it felt amazing. Then we hopped in his car, and I listened to his album. Yeah, ya heard right. IVON IS A SINGER-SONGWRITER!!

If you know me, I am obsessed with music and love humans who create it. You can imagine my utter shock when I heard how professional all the songs on his album were. I was expecting like normal-grade college kid produced stuff. But boy, his stuff sounded like he’d spent years in a studio perfecting it all. The lyrics were also freaking spectacular. I related to almost every song and part of me wanted to use half of them and create a musical about the struggles my generation goes through. I was beyond amazed and like I- I just- speechless.

But I think the best part of that night was what he did and where he drove as I listened to all these fantastical songs. Ivon drove us to like two or three different counties as we heard his songs. He said he’d done it so now I can say I’ve explored more of Ireland and been to more parts of Ireland. The smol sensitive crybaby in me wanted to weep with gratitude. Nobody has ever done something like that for me and it literally warmed my heart.

When we got back in the area where the school was, I popped in some KPOP and boy am I glad I did. THIS IS PRICELESS!

When I got home, I felt so happy, grateful, joyous, and basically any other positive emotion you can think of. The boy with the pink and green aura had given me the gift of pure happiness, a thing which I’d forgotten the feeling of.

Thank you Ivon Alexander Roberts. You mean the world. Keep chasing your dreams and never doubt yourself, you will do great things for this world.

Stay tuned for next week’s chapter of

“The Land of Ice Chronicles”

 

The Land of Ice Chronicles: Adjustment 101 [loss of interest, rise of negativity]

I have the flu now and I am bed-ridden. This meant that I had to miss all of my classes for about a week. I was forced to just stay in bed and watch Netflix. And in the beginning, I wanted to go out and go to class but after a day or two… I grew accustomed to my room and my ned. I grew too accustomed to them. On top of that, the flu caused my mindset to revert to one of complete negativity. That mindset caused me to look at all the things I hated in this country. I know what y’all are thinking; What could you possibly hate in such a green-coloured country said to be full of leprechauns? Oh, you’d be surprised. When you’re in a negative mindset, everything can be turned to shit and blown out of proportion somehow.

For example, the 15-minute walk from my house to classes started to feel like endless miles and miles of torturous walking. Every time it rained, I would have a mini panic-attack because of the hatred and lack of appreciation I had of rain. I got fed up with the Friday night parties at the stables bar because the DJ played the same music every single night and it was all crap. I hated the fact that now nobody would pay attention to me at the parties. I hated the weather for every time I’d get all pretty with makeup, the rain would mess it all up and cause me to cancel all plans and just stay home. I was upset because I couldn’t watch the things I wanted to on Netflix. I was tired of eating potatoes and having to put butter in my peanut butter because it tasted like a batter of wilting nuts. I was mad at the pizza because it wasn’t as good as South Korea’s, or even NYC’s. And the thing that always kicked me in the head was how small the bathrooms are here; It’s like they only think about the people with no fat in their body and no meat on their asses. Mama got meat all over her body; those tiny stalls had both sides of my hips colliding with either side of the wall. And if that wasn’t already annoying…

YoU hAvE tO pAy 20cEnTs tO TaKe A pIsS iF yOu’Re In ThE MaLL

Needless to say, since I was focusing on all these things, I was not getting better. After I was cured of the flu, I caught an ear infection that took about a month and a half to fade away. And once that was gone, I got hit with the worst of it. But… I’ll tell you about that later.

The big point here is that I was taking everything I had here for granted; I was just focusing on the negatives and creating imaginary negatives in the positives. I was lost in a sea of depression, darkness, self-loathing, homesickness and that contributed to making my physical body ill. It’s a funny thing, the mind. It’s a powerful thing, the mind. It’s this being that scientist haven’t been able to crack; it’s a thing that will heal a dying body when it is given a placebo pill, only because it believes it is being given real medicine. The mind is the thing that will determine what the physical body receives and gives off. It wasn’t until I learned this lesson, that my life in Ireland changed for the better. It wasn’t until I learned this lesson, that I was changed for the better.

Curious to see how my life changed?

You’ll have to wait until next week’s chapter of “The Land of Ice Chronicles”

[Also, sorry for the long wait between the publication of chapters. That’s why I published three in one day to make up for lost chances :). I hope you enjoy and learn from my mistakes]

The Land of Ice Chronicles: Adjustment 101 [The Party and The After-Party]

It’s Friday night and my hormones are raging. Tonight is the big night! Tonight is the night that I experience what the NIGHTCLUB on campus has to offer. I am beyond excited and I feel completely confident in the outfit I’m in. I’m wearing my tiara again and I feel and look like royalty. I walked to the stables club with the biggest smile on my face and a heart full of hope. Perhaps I’d meet my knight in shining armour at this shindig. Perchance I’d get to experience the feeling of someone else’s lips on mine (it’s been a while and mama wanted some sugar).

When I got to the stables centre, I saw people at every corner. Nobody was dancing but it still brought me joy to know that the room was full of opportunities to make new friends and meet people from all corners of the world. I specifically had my eye on a group of Japanese boys; I always tended to get along with Asians easily so the fact that there were some of them here brought me relief. Within minutes, I’d become immersed in conversation with this group of people; it was fantastic. One of the guys I met (Ko-Sato) had been there for a semester already and had somewhat morphed into an Irish Japanese man. He was honestly my favourite though. Dancing around with him and just talking to him reminded me of one of my best friends that I met at New Paltz.

After having spent a lot of time with Ko-Sato, I longed to meet more people and well try and seek a hot guy to dance with. That’s when I saw him; this caramel-coloured angelic being dancing in a corner. I went up and spoke to him and found out that he was actually born and raised Japanese with one of his parents being of American descent. The combination of the two ethnicities made a beautiful new form of species I low-key wanted to pounce on. Had me like:

Lucky for me, towards the end of the party, I did dance with the caramel-coloured Asian. We did kiss a bit and, yes, it was amazing to have my lips being stimulated again after 5 months of nothing. He was also just a really nice guy which made me happy. Before I left to go home, we exchanged information and he even said he wanted to hang out sometime outside of the club.

I smiled and said, “yeah, we should”. Then I was off to my home and screeching about the experience with my mom and my best friend from back home. I took this request of ‘hanging out’ to mean that this caramel angel actually wanted to date me; a thought that excited all of the cells in my body because I’d never really been on a date my entire 21 years of life.

I was intensifying everything for myself. THAT IS A BAD THING; NEVER AGAIN. I kept having all these daydreams and expectations of how it would feel to be on a real date for the first time. Wanna know what it was like? Sorry, I can’t tell you because

IT NEVER HAPPENED

After messaging this guy to try and pick the date and location to hang out, I realised he was just like all the other men. All he wanted was a piece of ass.

Don’t get me wrong, normally that fact wouldn’t upset me at all. I mean I walked into the club hoping for a hot make-out session; guys walk into clubs expecting that to lead to a steamy one-night. But that ain’t my type of thing- I can kiss a guy and dance with him but that’s it. My body is a temple and I’m not ready for all the drama that comes attached to the loss of virginity. The reason why I was so mad at the realisation that this guy was just like all other guys was that of the way everything happened. When I was clubbing in Korea, the guys try to get you to leave the club and get busy so you know right away exactly what they want. This caramel devil in disguise was so gentle and his request to hang out seemed so innocent and lacking any sexual innuendos. So when I found out the truth, I was heavily disappointed.

This realisation didn’t come until Sunday though. So for a whole two days, I felt 100% adjusted to this country and its newness and vibrancy. For two whole days, I was happy enough to forget about my longing to be home. It was the first time since I’d been in Ireland, that I slept through the night with no worries or fear. Hence, when I did learn the truth, I was propelled back down into this bubble of homesickness, self-pity, and lowkey-depression.

I tried to be as positive as I could be though. Tomorrow would mark the start of classes so I had to at least try and maintain a positive attitude. And I was somewhat successful. I was, slowly but surely, re-adjusting to being a college student living on UL’s campus in Limerick, Ireland. I was just about comfortable with everything right before I contracted the flu.

I CONTACTED THE FRIGGEN FLU

Interested in learning what comes next?

Then, continue reading “The Land of Ice Chronicles”

The Land of Ice Chronicles: Adjustment 101 [Week 1]

“Rise and Shine”, my alarm seemed to yelp at the top of its lungs at 7am on a Monday morning.

I smiled as I woke up; it was the first day of Orientation.

For some odd reason, I was excited for Orientation week. It was fun in South Korea and it was a blast when I was a freshman in New Paltz so I had high expectations. I put on a ton of makeup, put on my cutest outfit and even wore my tiara. I was convinced that today was going to be an amazing day and I wanted to feel like a queen while I experienced it.

I walked into the auditorium where all the orientation stuff was happening and was able to talk to people more easily this time than when I was at Eden the day before. I made a few friends and then we were all off to get our Student IDs and going on a tour of the school. Our tour guide was Edward and he was a literal ball of energy; he called me Princess the entire day (which I admit made me feel like royalty). However, there is one thing he said at some point that harshed my mood just a bit that day. We were all talking about reasons we decided to come here and when it was my turn, I told my truth “I’m 25% Irish so I wanted to see what I was missing”. Before I could finish my sentence Ed cut me off and said:

“Hah- Americans always going around saying things like I’m 3% Polish, 0.001%Irish, 4%African…”

That response caught me off-guard and I admit that, at the moment, I wanted to roundhouse kick Edward in the face. It enraged me so much; that was so uncalled for. It made me feel so unwelcome in the country I was in. Even though I let it all slide after it happened, I think that it was that moment that kept me in a negative mindset for most of my semester here at UL. On the low-key, I couldn’t stop thinking about that one moment. It always seemed to remind me of the untrue thought I had; “I don’t belong here. Coming here was a mistake”. And then I would make it worse for myself by comparing the journey I was having here to the one I had in South Korea. I’d tell myself things like “if we were only in Korea we’d be happy”. The fact is that in Korea, I’d say things like “I think my spirit is Korean” and Koreans would just smile, laugh, hug me, and invite to go to places with them. Yet, here, a country where I have an actual ancestral history with wasn’t accepting me as being a part of it?

I know. I know. I was being 100% overdramatic is what I was being. The truth is that happiness shouldn’t be placed on anything external. It should always be something that is within you. After all, happiness is an emotion and we are the people that control when and why we feel or don’t feel it. This is a lesson that I wouldn’t learn until months after my first week in Ireland.

But before we get to my moment of enlightenment, let me tell you about my journey of getting there. So after the tour, we all went out for a beer which was pretty great. That’s one thing I love about this campus; there’s a bar on it. A bar that doubles as a nightclub. So you could imagine my excitement for the International Students Party. And I’m not gonna lie, when I look back at the first Stables Friday Party, I like to think it was pretty amazing.

Why was it so amazing?

Continue reading “The land of Ice Chronicles” and you’ll find out!

A Weekend in Sale

This past weekend, my good friend Christine (who attends my Italian university full time), invited me to spend the weekend at her family’s home in Sale, Italy!

About an hour outside of Milan, Sale is in the Piemonte region. Compared to Milan, Sale is completely rural- there are huge masses of land where people tend crops, raise chickens, goats and other farm animals, with only 4,000 inhabitants. For my whole life, I’ve lived in an urban setting. I’ve visited rural parts of the United States but never had a experience actually living in a setting like that- the closest I’ve gotten to living in a rural setting is by being a student at New Paltz. But even then, I still never experienced living on an actual farm.

I was thrilled when she extended the invitation. In the past year, I’ve grown a huge passion towards agriculture and living a sustainable life. Farm life has begun to intrigue me and I felt that going to Sale- even if its only for a weekend- could give me a tiny glimpse onto what it is like in a pastoral landscape.

It truly felt like a home away from home! Her family was warm and inviting, and it was nice to be somewhere that was so opposite of what I’m used to- not only in the states, but here in Italy as well!

Sale will always hold a place in my heart- and I’ll definitely be back at least once in my lifetime!

London, Venice and More Oh My!

While studying abroad, I have been fortunate to do a ton of traveling- both in and out of Italy!

My first trip was to Cinque Terre. It was my birthday weekend; my friends and I visited each of the towns in one day! Each offered a different experience but they all had one thing in common- an amazing view. Cinque Terre was only a 2 hour train ride from Milan, making it a super accessible but fun trip!

After that, I flew to Prague and London! My sister had planned to travel to Prague coincidentally during the time that I’d be in Italy, so we thought it was a perfect weekend to meet up. My sister is 6 years older than me and lives in another state, so seeing her had made me so happy- who knew we’d be in Prague, TOGETHER?! It truly made my heart full.

London has to be one of my favorite cities I have ever visited! It was so metropolitan, and nostalgic. Everywhere I went felt sophisticated and chic. There, I visited shops and pubs, walking along townhouses in Notting Hill, while stopping to drink tea or eat falafel pockets (which were SO yummy). Being in London made me SO happy. I definitely will go back to visit one day.

And lastly, my most recent trip that I did happened to be with my dad! At my university, we just had our mid-semester break and my dad was lucky enough to get some days off so, he flew all the way to Milan and we took a “road trip” of Italy. We went to Lake Como, Venice, and Florence. All of the places were so different from one another; it is mind-boggling to me how you can be in the same country yet certain parts are so vastly different from each other! All were beautiful in their own unique way. Visiting all 3 places were truly enriching, especially with my dad by my side.

Academics

Now that midterms are over, I finally feel like I can give you all a clear view into what I think about the courses I am taking here!

At SUNY New Paltz, I am quite ahead of course requirements. Because of this, my advisor gave me the freedom to take what I please and of what piqued my interest. So, here at Cattolica in Milan I am taking four courses: A Mafia Story: Its Representation in Literature, Cinema, and TelevisionFashion Images and the City of Milan: A Sociological Perspective on Modern Italian FashionCitizenship and Religion in a Multicultural Society: A New Clash of Identities in Italy and Europe? and The Female Character in Italian Contemporary Literature and Culture. All are vastly different from each other, and don’t necessarily have a correlation with my major and minor at home (which is Sociology with a Human Services concentration, and a minor in Deaf Studies), however, I do really enjoy them.

A Mafia Story: Its Representation in Literature, Cinema, and Television would have to be my favorite. In my Sophomore Year of high school (5 years ago) I was introduced to American mobster movies: Casino, Goodfellas, A Bronx Tale… you get the idea. I was always fascinated on the topic, but only got my information about the mafia solely through these movies- I had no other outlets. In this course, I learn about the history of the ‘mafiosi’; how it originated, where it originated and how it is represented in both Italian and American media platforms. I even watched The Godfather for the first time as one of my homework assignments! This class has truly opened my eyes into a huge and important part of Italy’s history: specifically in Sicily. My professor is knowledgable and passionate about this subject, and it truly has rubbed off onto me.

Fashion Images and the City of Milan: A Sociological Perspective on Modern Italian Fashion is the only class that I’m taking that will give me credit towards my major (elective). Since becoming a sociology major, I can’t help but think of everything from a sociological perspective… its in my nature. However this class does more than that- it has taught me about important fashion designers, and how moments in history really affect the world of fashion. When I was little, I dreamed of being a fashion designer. I never really knew why but this class brings me back to that dream, but in a different way. I would never really consider myself stylish, but now I find myself wanting to express in the form of fashion and style, and help others too. It really is enthralling.

Citizenship and Religion in a Multicultural Society: A New Clash of Identities in Italy and Europe? is a class that took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to take it, and to be honest, it was sort of a last minute resort. I didn’t know what I was going into but it has been a pleasant surprise. In this course we look at the history of citizens and societies within Italy and Europe from a philosophical and anthropological perspective, and how these factors have changed over time with modernization. Its very complex, and I often fumble with my words, so I’ll spare you the details 😉

And lastly, The Female Character in Italian Contemporary Literature and Culture. I am lowkey, a literature nerd. I took two AP English courses in my high school, and a few at SUNY New Paltz- including The Novel and Women in Literature (which I highly recommend). The Female Character in Italian Contemporary Literature and Culture is another course I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to. We analyze female characters in books, operas, and movies written by both male and female Italian creators. Like I said, I love literature, and since I’ve taken a Women in Lit course at New Paltz, this class has been nothing but fun for me. I’ve found so many books outside of American and British literature that I now want to read.

Not only are the classes intriguing, but the professors are all super sweet and compassionate. I express my worries to them, or even my curiosities, and they are always there to help and engage.

Overall, I appreciate Cattolica for providing us international students with interesting courses I could never take elsewhere, and for sparking a newfound curiosity within me.

0-100 Real Quick: Dealing with Culture Shock in Milan

This post is loooonngggg overdue. I’ve been caught up with traveling and assignments and just living my life that I haven’t had much time to sit on my computer and be consistent with this blog (which I will work on from here on out). However, tonight I am feeling motivated! I went out to dinner with my close friends that I’ve made here; it was the first time I stayed out past 9PM here in Milan. Being out late made me realized how living in Milan no longer feels like a foreign feeling, but like second nature to me. So, I thought, why not use this time to reflect on the changes and differences in cultural norms I experienced during my first weeks here in Milan.

The food here is all pasta and cheese and meat! Sounds like a dream to most right? As a vegetarian/vegan, I actually found it quite hard to go out to restaurants and find a vegetarian/vegan option, let alone find a vegetarian/vegan restaurant. However, I did make friends (unintentionally) who all happen to be vegetarian! We make it our mission to find good vegetarian and vegan restaurants, and we’ve stumbled upon a few so far.

Dress here also happens to be completely different than what I am used to. After all, I am in the fashion capital of the world! At home, I am used to wearing off-the-shoulder tops, jeans and my vans or boots everywhere I go- overall, super casual. Here, you are expected to be more modest yet still fashionable. Exposed skin definitely gets you some glares but it is something I’ve come accustomed to- my collar bones are my favorite feature, how can I not show them off? Another thing I noticed is that women wear sneakers with EVERY outfit which I’ve come to love and be inspired by. Women wear sneakers with slacks, jeans, dresses and so much more; I never considered sneakers fashionable until this point and now, I can’t stop wanting to buy them! I have a pair of Nike Cortez’s waiting for me at home 😉 Overall, being here makes me that much more into fashion and style; not to mention I’m taking a course titled Sociology of Fashion in Milan at my university here.

A social interaction I wish I could bring back to the states with me is aperitivo! Aperitivo is basically like Italians happy hour; you buy a drink (which can range from $8-$12) and then you either get chips, a meat and cheese platter or even a buffet depending on the establishment. Aperitivo is a great way to socialize with your friends after a long week of classes and have a good time.

I’m not going to lie and say that it was an easy transition coming to Milan- like I was warned by the study abroad advisors, I definitely did get frustrated about certain things not being as convenient as they were in America. However, it is safe to say that I finally am in a groove here in Milan, and I am really enjoying my time here.

Window to the World

This evening the sky is shades of orange, and of purple and blue. I can’t help but think about all the time I wish I spent with you. In my mind, collecting the things I want to say. Wait a lil while longer and you’ll hear on the 53rd Sunday.

Since coming to Milan, I’ve grown an attachment to windows and the sky, specifically to the colors the sky makes when the sun is rising and setting. This fixation on color and windows and the sky has followed me to wherever I go.

When I visited Prague, my accommodation had a beautiful window that I would sit next to at night and listen to the chatter out on the streets.

When I visited London, I visited a bakery which was strictly decorated in pastel colors: pinks and blues and greens and purples! It was visually stunning and gave me a sense of joy (not to mention the food was delicious.

 

When I’m in Milan, my favorite time of day is when the sun is setting; I am making myself dinner while the windows are spread open. I hear the sounds of garlic sautéing, families and children playing, or nothing at all. The sky turns into hues of orange and pink and purple and sometimes blue. That is when I’m happiest. That is when I am at peace.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During this time, I sit and reflect on a lot- the universe; my life; the people I hold dear to my heart; the world and how many people inhabit it, who have their own thoughts, dreams and aspirations; how there is so much this world has to offer. This is something that I will forever cherish and will use to ground me wherever I go. The feeling inside of me when I get to see such a sky, or such a vast amount of color, or an excellent unfurled window, is truly unexplainable. It makes my heart warm and sometimes like my heart is going to burst- that’s how intense it can get. Some people don’t understand why I feel this way, and some people do; the optimal thing I have realized from this is that not everyone needs to understand- if it makes me feel good and content, then I don’t need to prove it to anyone else.

Ciao Milano!

I landed in Milan bright and early on a September morning. It was chilly and sunny, which is the perfect weather for me. It had blown my mind that just 8 hours before, I was in NYC, in my home, with my parents and my pets, all of whom I hold close to my heart. I was excited, yet super nervous to start this journey, especially without my parents, siblings or even best friend to hold my hand through it all- literally.

When I stepped off the plane and into the airport, everything felt normal. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary or different; people in the airport spoke English, and there were other Americans in close proximity considering we had just gotten off of a plane that departed from JFK- my main concern was getting from the airport to my apartment which was an hour away. I made it to a train called the ‘Malpensa Express’ which connects you from the airport to the central train station in Milan. My 5 foot 3, 135 pound self trucked my 80 pounds worth of bags and luggage across towns, transferring from the airport, to the Malpensa Express, to the metro. What an experience! I was so determined and focused on getting from one point to the next that I couldn’t even think about anything else.

However, when I got to my apartment, that is when reality set in. I am here. IN MILAN. WHERE I WILL BE LIVING FOR 3 MONTHS. Is this real life? I couldn’t believe it. I felt so overwhelmed with emotion, I couldn’t help but cry. I knew that these next couple of months would bring intense change for my life, and although I knew that it was necessary for this change to occur at this point in my life, I wasn’t exactly ready to step out of my comfort zone and accept that it was going to occur starting now.